September 20th, 2007

cap'n hedgehog reporting for duty

TV/Movie heresies

1. Christ, I Love Lucy is boring. So boring. So boring and awful. Perhaps there is a world in which Lucille Ball deserves her sterling reputation as a comedienne, but it ain’t this one.

2. Speaking of boring, Iranian film counts among its most highly touted products some of the most deadly dull, uninvolving, flat shit I have ever seen. Jonathan Rosenbaum and a bunch of other smart critics champion these flicks to the ends of the earth, but I’ve never seen one that didn’t put me right to sleep.

3. I say this as someone who bows to no one in his unabashed love of comic books (in other words, a hypocrite): sci-fi movies and television, for the most part, fully deserve their rotten reputation. Most of it is just utter grade-Z crap, and I’ll tell you something: go ahead and tell me what an ass I am for saying it because I have a billion Justice League comics, but there is nothing -- nothing -- I have ever seen with the words “Star Trek” attached to anything that even remotely justifies its level of popularity. Star Wars is marginally better insofar as it produced about one and a half good movies, but it’s still not enough material of decent quality for me to fathom why everyone is gaga over it.

4. In recent years, I’ve come around to the opinion that The Sopranos is a lot better than I gave it credit for at first, but the critics who were calling it the greatest artistic achievement of the last quarter-century still have their heads up their asses. It’s not even the best show on HBO; The Wire and Deadwood are both far better and don’t get nearly the same amount of attention. Other criminally underrated shows: American Gothic, G vs. E, Profit.

5. I got no use for Henry Jaglom, Whit Stillman or Mike Leigh. None.

6. While it’s not nearly as good as it was in its prime, The Simpsons isn’t nearly as bad now as people say it is. If people are bored with it and aren’t watching it anymore, fine – but it’s not like it’s stinking up the joint week after week. I realize it had a long way to fall, but it’s not nearly as bad as a good episode of Family Guy. Other animation stuff: American Dad really is as bad as its reputation; South Park at its funniest is just deadly, but it’s far more often mediocre to bad; and as much as I love Brad Bird’s stuff, I can’t fully relax when watching it because of that ever-present creepy libertarian vibe.

7. 3rd Rock from the Sun is still underrated, dammit. American Idol is as good or better than any other reality show I can think of, and Starship Troopers was a good, verging on great, movie.

8. People whose continued success I don’t quite get: Tina Fey, David Boreanaz, Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson, David S. Goyer.

9. TV sketch comedy, despite being a favorite medium of mine, has a pretty dismal history. Better than people give them credit for: Exit 57, Stella. Overrated: The Kids in the Hall, Upright Citizens Brigade. So bad that it's stunning it wasn't canceled decades ago: Saturday Night Live. Mr. Show and SCTV were so good they really need major critical reassessment to realize what a high level those guys were operating on; Monty Python's Flying Circus is probably the best example of the genre imaginable, and it's too bad that legions of slavering geek devotees have given it something of a bad reputation, because it was literally untouchable for much of its runtime, and still is. The Ben Stiller Show, in retrospect, wasn't nearly as good as it seemed.

10. Citizen Kane is a perfect example of something being every bit as good as its reputation. Some Like It Hot, The Best Years of Our Lives, and American Graffiti are perfect examples of things that are not nearly as good as their reputation. Also, if I had to name one filmmaker whose work falls farthest short of the degree of praise, importance and hype surrounding them, it would be Charlie Chaplin. Finally, why anyone would think of Jackie Brown as Quentin Tarantino's best movie is beyond me; I still think it's his worst.